- The description says it’s a “ page-turning, romantic, eerie tale of genius and, possibly, madness” – how could I resist?
Summary from GoodReads
The Bellwether Revivals opens and closes with bodies. The story of whose bodies and how they come to be spread about an elegant house on the river near Cambridge is told by Oscar, a young, bright working class man who has fallen in love with an upper-class Cambridge student, Iris, and thereby become entangled with a group of close friends, led by Iris’s charismatic, brilliant, possibly dangerous brother. For Eden Bellwether believes he can heal — and perhaps more — through the power of music.
In this masterful debut, we too are seduced by this gilded group of young people, entranced by Eden’s powerful personality and his obvious talent as a musician, and caught off guard by the strangeness of Iris and Eden’s parents. And we find ourselves utterly unsure as to whether Eden Bellweather is a saviour or a villain, and whether Oscar will be able to solve this mystery in time to save himself, if not everyone else.
Every once in a while I’ll start to read a book and within just a few minutes, I’ll get goosebumps. That happened to me with The Bellwether Revivals – and honestly, I was surprised by it.
First of all – this book is described as a “masterpiece,”; a word that immediately sets me on edge because I feel as if I’m being set up to be disappointed. Secondly – the book centers around music – yet another thing that is bound to disappoint me since very few authors actually take the time to write intelligently about music and throw words around like Chopin and Beethoven like they are the end all/be all of classical music.
But once I began to read I was completely enchanted by the story being told. The beginning is perfect, and I don’t want to spoil it by writing about it in detail – but as far as tension and masterful writing goes? It’s a 5 out of 5. It sets a gothic tone, is gritty, powerful and made me want to find a corner where I could be sucked into the story and not leave until it was finished. That feeling warred with one that was wanting me to slow down and savor it, like every last bite of a really delicious piece of pie. I didn’t want the story to end, yet I craved the ending and every bite along the way.
The Bellwether Revivals is the story of a strange pairing of siblings – academic, rich kids who attend King’s College. Into their life comes a man who is employed at, what is essentially, a nursing home. He lacks the education of the set of people the siblings are involved with, yet reads and furthers his own mind outside of the classroom in a way that the rich set only dreams of.
Added to the fantastic richness of the characters is science – specifically psychology. I cannot describe how perfect the pace was for this book, how thrilling and unnerving certain scenes were, and how amazing and fascinating some of the diagnoses were that kept the story flowing.
Benjamin Wood didn’t go deeply into musical theory, but he researched enough to pull names into the story that are known well to the academic classical music world, and he wrote with enough detail that the vagueness of what was happening seemed plausible enough.
I cannot describe how much I enjoyed this book and highly recommend it to fans of gothic stories, both new and old.
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